UPDATED: Catalina Island GP Returns

Jean Turner | January 27, 2020

UPDATE: The Island Company would like to make it clear that the 2020 Catalina Island Grand Prix event has not been confirmed.

The Island Company issued the following statement:

Please be advised that your January 27th, 2020 announcement that the Catalina Island Grand Prix is returning in November of 2020 is incorrect. The event is not confirmed. 

Preliminary discussions are underway with the City of Avalon, The Catalina Island Company and others, over the possibility of the event occurring. Both the city and Island Company have stated that they are open to the concept, but no terms have been finalized. Further, many other details, including potential sponsors, insurance, entitlements, environmental matters and more, will need to be discussed and worked through.

In order to ensure that open and positive discussions continue with all the necessary parties that are working to help this event occur, it is extremely important that you immediately inform your readers of the correct facts surrounding this potential event. 

The Catalina Island GP returns! The Catalina Grand Prix classic that last took place in 2010, and was widely considered dead and buried, could be back on the calendar for 2020. Through the efforts of the City of Avalon, Island Company and promoters of the National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series, the Catalina Island GP is back, a full decade after its last running. It is slated to take place later this year (or early 2021)—the specific date has yet to be announced. (Keep an eye on the @CatalinaIslandGP on Instagram and The Catalina Grand Prix on Facebook for upcoming details!)

Kendall Norman at the 2010 Catalina Island GP
Kendall Norman on the gas at the 2010 Catalina Grand Prix. Photo by Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

Santa Catalina Island, the southernmost of California’s Channel Islands, lies about 26 miles off the coast of Southern California. In its sleepy harbor town of Avalon, home to about 4000 souls, hardly any motorized vehicles are allowed. Residents scoot around town in electric golf carts with nary an internal combustion engine in sight. Hosting a motorcycle race with 1200 dirt bikes is a tough sell for this quiet island, but a band of AMA District 37 enthusiasts including Kurt Hintz, Steve Hoefs, Buddy Minuto and Scott Perkins managed to pull it off.

Oh, and the Catalina Island GP is not only on the calendar for 2020; Hintz and crew added that they are working with the Island Company on a five-year deal for the event.

The news of this legendary resurrection comes as quite a surprise, and we caught up with Scott Perkins to hear more about how and why the race suddenly got a green light, and what to expect at the 2020 event, and beyond.

Travis Pastrana at the Catalina Island GP
Travis Pastrana goes big for the crowd at the last running of the event, nearly a decade ago. Photo: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

We are on for the 2020 Catalina Island GP 2020! This was the race many people said was never going to happen again. How did we get here?

Mostly from Kurt Hintz. He’s got some friends in the island that are business owners and council members and they want the race to come back. In 2010, the amount of revenue that was brought to that town in that 4-5-day period during an off-season was just good for the island itself. Since 2010, he’s been working on it. It hasn’t been until the last year or so that they’ve made progress. Even at the last minute we thought it might have been canceled until last night. It’s been on their minds and on the edge, just needed a push.

Steve [Hoefs] is the business owner over there and so is Buddy [Minuto] and they’re both friends with Kurt. Those are the guys that are pushing the city for the race.

Is the Catalina Island GP being promoted by the NGPC?

The NCGP, Big 6, SRA Grand Prix and District 37 clubs are going to be kind of organizing the race. But the Catalina Island GP is going to be promoted and handled by the island itself.

So this is not part of a series.

No. It’s a standalone event. It’s not gonna pay GP points or district points. It’s just a standalone event like it was in 2010.

Catalina Island GP course layout
An aerial view of the motocross section of the 2010 Catalina Island GP course. Promoters say the new layout will be very similar. Photo: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

And this might be a five-year deal?

From what I was told, it’s not just a one-year agreement; this could happen for the next five years! We’ll have this year, the 2020 Catalina Island GP. But that does not mean that it will stay in the same month in the next four years. It could move around. They have permits and stuff they need to do and one of them was the impact study. They anticipate that they will get everything done. It could be that we have to move the date, but either way you look at it, it’s gonna happen.

Tell me about the Catalina Island GP itself. What’s it going to look like?

The race will be very similar to what an NGPC (Big 6) race looks like. Obviously a little shorter. Probably more along the lines of what the Lake Havasu GP is, as far as mileage. Somewhere in that five-mile range. It’ll have jumps, it’ll have some asphalt sections, it’ll be very similar probably to what it was in 2010. And the process will be the same.

There’s going to be a limited amount of entries allowed. We don’t know what that exact number will be but we’ll get to that. You’re going to have to get your bike into the container and on the boat and shipped over just like it was in 2010. That will more than likely happen the Saturday/Sunday/Monday before the event. It’ll be a massive effort but well worth it!

2020 Catalina Island GP number plate
NGPC Series got the buzz going last week by posting this teaser photo – a number plate for the 2020 Catalina Island GP in a nod to off-road legend Kurt Caselli.

How soon can people pre-register?

We’re working on that, too. Trying to get the logistics of everything put together for it. There is a Facebook and an Instagram for the Catalina Grand Prix (@CatalinaIslandGP), so we will start pushing info out on that first and then we’ll follow with NGPC and District 37 channels. We expect to have that stuff out here pretty quick. Because we know everybody’s gonna want to book rooms and all that good stuff. We want to make sure we have the classes put together and we need to build the system to host the online registration. I don’t think the classes will be exactly what NGPC has, but it will probably be pretty close.

Is there going to be a significant pro class, or Catalina Island GP invitational?

We’d like to give pro racers a good opportunity to come race. We’re working on putting together a pro purse and we’ll be making an announcement on that soon.

Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.